Most historical accounts of the Irish Catholic community in Toronto describe it as a poor underclass of society, ghettoised by the largely British, Protestant population and characterised by the sectarian violence between Protestants and Catholics that earned Toronto the title "Belfast of Canada." Challenging this long-standing view of the Irish Catholic experience, Mark McGowan provides a new picture of the community's evolution and integration into Canadian society. McGowan traces the evolution of the Catholic community from an isolated religious and Irish ethnic subculture in the late nineteenth century into an integrated segment of English Canadian society by the early twentieth century. English-speaking Catholics moved into all neighbourhoods of the city and socialised with and married non-Catholics. They even embraced their own brand of imperialism: by 1914 thousands of them had enlisted to fight for God and the British Empire. McGowan's detailed and lively portrait will be of great interest to students and scholars of religious history, Irish studies, ethnic history, and Canadian history. Mark G.
McGowan is associate professor of history at St Michael's College, University of Toronto.